The annual service for the Order of the Garter at Windsor Castle took place today, but rain called off the traditional procession down to St George’s Chapel, as well as the carriage rides back.
Under threatening, but dry, skies, spouses of the Knights, including Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, were ferried from Engine Court in the Upper Ward of the castle, down to Lower Ward and the chapel of St George.
The Knights of the Order of the Garter followed shortly after, hopping into vehicles from the private entrance to The Queen’s State Apartments, instead of the usual State Entrance.
2016 is the first time since 1971 that the procession did not take place due to weather; members usually walk down with Royals returning in open carriages.
In order of seniority, lowest to highest, Knights travelled to the service. Knights of the Order include Sir John Major, The Duke of Westminster and Baroness Manningham-Buller.
The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh were last to arrive, all Knights and Ladies in the majestic velvet capes and hats with ostrich plumes.
The Order of The Garter dates back to Edward III and is the oldest order of chivalry in the UK, and the service each year installs new Knights and Ladies, up to its 24 member capacity (plus The Queen, Prince Charles as heir, and Royal members).
St George’s Chapel is the spiritual home of the ancient Order of the Garter, hence the location for the ceremony.
Members are chosen personally by The Queen, with no influence from the government as with honours; it is given to those who have held public office, who have contributed in a particular way to national life or who have served the Sovereign personally. The new Knights and Ladies are announced on St George’s Day each year.
For 2016, the former Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London, Sir David Brewer, and Charles Kay-Shuttleworth, chairman of the Association of Lord Lieutenants and the Council of the Duchy of Lancaster, were admitted to the Order by Her Majesty.
Partners and less senior Knights and Ladies wait outside the Chapel for Her Majesty and Prince Philip to arrive, chatting amongst themselves. Kate, Camilla and Sophie giggled as they spoke with Lord Ashburton.
The service included hymns and prayers, as well as the installation of the new Knights.
Carriages – which usually take the Royal Family back up the castle – were also not used, meaning less photos were available than normal. See the images our editor, Victoria Howard, took at the event below, as Royals came back to Her Majesty’s private apartments.
Garter Day is a rather intimate occasion, with only a few hundred members of the public allowed into the castle to see the procession.